This is a chapter from my book The Gay Husband Checklist for Women Who Wonder.
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BISEXUALITY---ILLUSION AND DELUSION
By Bonnie Kaye, M. Ed.
I hear it all the time and I’ve heard it for years. “My husband is not gay, he is bisexual. Or, I hear from the husbands that, “There’s no way I am gay, I have bisexual tendencies.” Fifteen years ago when I first started counseling wives and straight/gay couples, I would get angry when those words would start the conversation after the informal pleasantries. I was in the beginning stages of my own recovery, and my anger from the lies and deceit of my ex-husband during our marriage was still too fresh in my mind. But now, years later, I can calmly discuss this issue with objectivity and understanding because most of my pain and anger is gone. I do admit, though, that the whole issue still irritates me.
If straight/gay couples choose to keep their marriage together for whatever reasons, that is a choice they make. But the problem with using bisexuality as the justification only postpones the inevitable of facing the real issue. I say this at the beginning rather than the end because it is important to keep this thought in mind while you siphon through the following discussion.
First, let’s look at the overall picture. Most women don’t understand homosexuality. I didn’t. I thought a gay person is attracted to someone of the same sex. That’s what I learned from an early age, and no one disputed those facts.
Yes, I heard about movie stars that married and turned out to be gay. But those were Hollywood stories, and in the movies, anything goes. It didn’t have any sense of reality to me. I recognized gay people once I reached my mid-to-late teens. Everyone could identify them because they always stood out. The gay guys were effeminate and flamboyant. They always had girl friends around them, but no girlfriends. Girls loved them because they were wonderful confidants, advise givers, and fashion experts. They would gossip with you, help you fashion your hair, and confirm whether or not your choice in men would have been their choice.
And we never understood what made men gay, we only knew it was wrong. We couldn’t visualize two men being passionate together like we were with the men we fell in love with. We could intellectualize it, but we couldn’t imagine it without thinking there was something sick and demented about it. There was no way we could ever suspect that we could marry someone gay and not know it.
So how did it happen? How could something that seemed so clear become so jumbled and confusing? How could our judgement be so off-target? Easy. It was our misconception of “GAY.” We didn’t know that there were gay men who had the ability to perform sexually with a woman even though it was certainly not a preference. Not all gay men can do this, but some can. Does it mean they want to have sex with a woman? Not really. Given the choice, they are not going to pick you. But the problem is, those gay men who can perform with women believe they don’t have a choice.
These men are caught between two worlds and are really lost. They are emotionally straight, but physically gay. They don’t emotionally fit into the gay world, and they are hoping that their ability to perform heterosexually will take away the nagging physical attraction they have for men. They can’t come to terms with themselves because they too have been taught that there is something morally wrong with being gay. And so they live a lie, living it with you and resenting you for it. They misplace their own frustrations on their wives and express it through anger and hostility where it hurts the most.
Some husbands do come to terms with their homosexuality at some point, but there is no way to predict when this will happen. A year, two, ten, twenty, forty—I’ve seen it take place at all different times. But many married gay men are never able to give up the comfort and safety of living in the straight world, even if it isn’t quite as comfortable as they would like it to be. The challenge alone of finding ways to avoid sexual relations with your wife has to be exhausting. No matter how difficult living a lie may be, it is easier than being part of the gay world. How do they know that? Because they have explored the gay world, even if it is from a distance. They tested the waters, putting in one toe at a time, never able to submerge the whole foot.
The gay world wasn’t something they could identify with—it was a bunch of freaks who blatantly bragged to the outside world that they were proud of this fluke of nature. It lacked sincerity, commitment and depth. Everything was focused on one thing—sex. They saw public displays at the gay bars where men would be embracing each other and passionately kissing. They watched men dancing together and grinding their bodies in a lewd manner. They were approached by the young male prostitutes on the streets in the gay neighborhoods offering all kinds of sexual services for money.
They read the gay newspapers and looked through the personal ads which may have sexually excited them but emotionally repulsed them. And what they saw, they hated. They were overcome with a sense of shame and revulsion. This was definitely not who they were. And so they ran back to the safety net. They ran home to their marriage, thinking of ways to fulfill those deepening urges without revealing their identity.At some point, these men find the opportunity to act on their homosexual needs and they think it’s okay. Why? Because they’re not gay—merely “bisexual.” Big deal. What does it have to do with you anyway? It’s not like they’re cheating on you with another woman. You should feel better about that. Don’t take it personally. It’s just a character flaw that you can learn to live with. If you really love your husband, you should be willing to overlook his little male indiscretions and his occasional weaknesses that he has no control over.
And then there is you, the wife who finally learns what is ripping apart your self-esteem day by day. Now it all makes sense. Your husband is bisexual. You were worried it was another woman. You may have even suspected that your husband was homosexual. What a relief! Here you thought divorce was looming overhead for reasons unknown but now you know that this is a workable problem. Bisexual. You have a fighting chance to make the marriage work. Right? Wrong!
When my ex-husband alluded to being “bisexual” during one (and only one) conversation in our marriage, I wasn’t exactly stunned. There were hints building up over time that pointed me in that direction, so it was somewhat of a relief when he didn’t blow up or dispute my accusation. Bisexual. It sure sounded and felt much better than “homosexual” which was my greatest fear. I could work with “bisexual’ because it meant I had a chance of pulling my husband over the middle line to my side of the fence.
All I had to do was make myself into the dream wife that would make him forget about looking elsewhere. I could take away those twinges of desire he felt for men by becoming more attractive and loving. And I justified that I could live with this problem as long as it was under my terms and conditions. In the spirit of compromise necessary in every good marriage, I made my list.
- If you have to go out every six months or so to take care of your business, I can live with it.
- As long as you satisfy whatever needs you have with someone of consenting age, I can live with it.
- As long as I never have to know anything about this phase of your life, I can live with it.
I had it all wrapped up in a neat package. My husband gave my conditions a nod of acceptance, and we stated that we would never discuss it again.
Of course, this agreement was pushing me even further into the state of delusion. Once I knew that my husband wanted to have sex with men, it didn’t matter what the classification of his sexuality was. I started obsessing and panicking every time he walked out the door without an explanation. Was this
going to be the day? Who was he with? If he was bisexual, why couldn’t I satisfy his needs? That’s the problem. Intellectually we can filter the information that we are not at fault, but when your husband engages in sex with a man, emotionally we don’t believe it. Although your husband justifies to himself that it’s not cheating because it’s a man, after a while you can’t. Infidelity is infidelity. Cheating is cheating. Do you feel better that he’s bestowing his passion on a man—the passion he’s never had for you?
I was scared and nervous once I faced the truth. I didn’t want to break up my marriage. I loved my husband even though he treated me with contempt. I could never do anything right in his eyes because subconsciously, I stood between him and his happiness. I was cramping his style, but as time went on,
he grew bolder and stopped caring about what I thought. Throughout our marriage, my husband denied being gay. After our “bisexual agreement,” he denied admitting to anything; he claimed he just went along with my paranoid thoughts to placate me. By this time it was harder to fool me. I knew the
signs like the glances at attractive young men that lasted far too long or the comraderie with males that far exceeded the boundaries of friendship.
After the breakup of my marriage, my husband was able to jump into the water full force and tried to find his place in the gay world. He wasn’t sure where he belonged although he had been physically part of that world for years before I met him. He had a love/hate relationship with the gay community. He knew what he wanted sexually, but found the gay lifestyle empty. The straight lifestyle offered him a security blanket. A loving wife, adorable children, respectability, stability. Who wouldn’t want that? For gay men who marry, they believe they can have the best of both worlds—the American dream plus an extra dream on the side. But at what expense to that devoted wife who trusts him to be honest and faithful?
Believe me, I am sympathetic to women who are scared to face the truth. I was one of them, and it was the most difficult struggle I’ve ever dealt with. My ground rules of what I could live with kept changing as my husband became bolder and less secretive. And each time I had to modify those ground rules to
his advantage, I became more broken down mentally because I was giving in to something that I couldn’t accept—a way of life that was unacceptable in a marriage. The worst part was that I believed it was my personal failure. If my husband was bisexual, I must be doing something wrong or otherwise he would want to be with me instead of a man.
Most gay men are wonderful to their wives when they feel an overpowering sense of guilt for their indiscretions. They are not looking to intentionally hurt their wives, and much like the abuse syndrome, all kinds of promises of change and reform are made when they are caught. It’s like the honeymoon is
starting all over again, giving the wife a false sense of desperately needed hope. The husband becomes loving, giving, and even semi-passionate for a time to prove that his little mistake is in the past and should be forgiven and forgotten.
But it usually doesn’t take long before the big pull starts. That’s just the way it is when nature takes its course. And each time it happens, the wife becomes more alert to the warning signs and can almost anticipate what’s around the corner when her husband leaves the house.
It all comes down to what you are willing to live with. If your husband is having sex with men, you can call it whatever name you want, but as the old saying goes, a rose by any other name is still a rose. A man who has sexual relations with a man is still a gay man in my book. And a final warning for those of you whose husbands keep reassuring you that they have these gay attractions but never acted on them. Don’t believe it. In almost all cases, they have acted on their needs either prior to or during your marriage. They may claim that they are just watching gay porno movies or reading gay magazines to satisfy these urges, but that’s usually a ploy to make you feel better and throw you off track.
I have met hundreds of gay husbands in marriages, leaving marriages, and after their marriages. At some point during their marriage, most of them were having gay sex in one form or another through casual dating, one-night stands, or full-fledged relationships and lying to their wives to “protect” their marriage. We desperately want to believe the lies they tell us. Even when the truth is smacking us right in the face, we believe their excuses because the truth is too painful to accept. We build a layer in our subconscious that I refer to as “limbo”—a state of mind where we exist day to day without living life because we are hurting too badly. And some women are able to live their lives this way indefinitely rather than give themselves the chance at real happiness and fulfillment.
I understand this. Sometimes we are so mentally weakened from dealing with this horrific situation that we feel unable to stand up and make a change. Certainly I am not one to judge when a woman is ready, if ever, to make that move. I don’t know if I would have had the courage and confidence to make that choice if my ex-husband didn’t make it for me. When you lose all of your self-confidence and self-worth; it’s hard to believe that you even deserve a chance at happiness. And so you walk through the days and nights sitting in limbo waiting for a miracle because you don’t have the strength to realize that
you can walk away from this trap.
The only way you will ever regain any of your mental strength back is to stop making excuses for your husband’s gay behavior by labeling it “bisexual.” Look at things for what they are and don’t let him tell you otherwise. If he wants to keep fooling himself, fine, but don’t let him keep fooling you. Each day
that you can say, “my husband is gay,” you will find yourself growing stronger because you can look at your marriage for what it is—not what it’s not or not what you wish it could be. Only then will you be able to start thinking about the right move for yourself, your future, and your long-deserved happiness in the world of the living, not the world of existing.
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